CLEARFIELD -- State planners are hoping to get ahead of the curve when it comes to clean air in Utah.
As the population increases, automobiles on state and local roads will do the same. More people and more cars means it will be more difficult to meet future air-quality standards in the state.
Kip Billings, an engineer with the Wasatch Front Regional Council, said council planners are developing ideas to meet tougher standards, particularly ozone standards, in the future.
Every five years, the Environmental Protection Agency reviews allowable ozone pollutant levels, with the principal component being smog.
This year, the EPA proposed dropping the allowable ozone pollutant level from its current level of 75 parts per billion to somewhere between 60 and 70 parts per billion.
But on Sept. 2, President Barack Obama decided against the tougher standards.
"There was a lot of concern over that," Billings said of the possible change. "It could happen in the future, so it's imperative that we think about the future right now."
At a WFRC Regional Growth Committee meeting Wednesday in Clearfield that several Top of Utah city and county officials attended, Billings presented a list of seven items that officials think will help curb ozone levels across the state.
The list includes:
- Improving signal coordination at 150 intersections across the state each year to prevent unnecessary engine idling;
- SIncreased awareness of the Utah Department of Transportation's "Travelwise," a program that encourages travelers to seek alternatives to driving alone;
- An investment in pedestrian and bicycle access at Utah Transit Authority facilities;
- An increase of 40 vans a year in UTA's van pool fleet;
- Instituting a new fuel tax;
- Doubling speeding ticket fines on poor air-quality days; and
- Investing in transit-oriented development projects.
"We've identified a number of different targets," Billings said. "Now we look at how to try to implement them."
Like many other road-related projects in the current economy, funding will be an issue, Billings said.
"At this point, we're still trying to figure out where the money is going to come from," he said.
Billings also noted that, during the summer when ozone levels are at their highest, every part of the state met the current standard of 75 parts per billion.
"This past (summer) season, we had very favorable ozone levels," he said. "We hope that will continue."